I am delighted to present highly skilled and beautiful lady Bella Lane for my next 'Meet the Maker' series of blog posts. Bella is a master Peruvian embroiderer and also Royal School of Needlework trained.
My path crossed with Bella at the Knitting & Stitching show where we were both teaching. I was very happy when she agreed to start offering her hand embroidery classes at Fabrications about a year ago. Her 2 forthcoming embroidery classes take place on Saturday May 13th - " Learn hand embroidery applique & stitch an Arpilleras of Peru " & "Learn hand embroidery & stitch an Andean rose ". A unique treat for beginners and existing embroidery enthusiasts as these mini master classes focus on Peruvian embroidery techniques, culture and history.
Tell me and the readers a little about yourself and what drew you to focus on embroidery?
My journey in embroidery started 40 years ago in the heart of the rain forest of Peru and it has been an incredible journey to reach this stage were I’m available to deeply understand the art of hand embroidery and the art of using it to express and inspire others by stitching, embroidering for professional use, fun, therapy, healing or just experimenting. I have been in the professional embroidery world for 10 years now and have worked with so many people and companies through commissions here in London which was a great springboard for pushing and extending the traditional professional training I had received for full three years. As well I have been teaching all kinds of embroidery workshops, for individuals groups her in UK and abroad, and still do this whenever I can. Stitching two pieces of cloth or stitching a single button really stops the busy world around us and really can connect us with our ancestors who at some point of their lives also stitched the same things without thinking that needles, threads and cloth will be with us forever, generation by generation. Technology will move fast but we always will depend on the needle and threads, these items never will die as we do. This is what draws me in to the world of hand embroidery. When I'm working with needle and threads, my mind is transported to another place, a place that can be beautiful, peaceful, intense and challenging and my love for needlework and embroidery has helped me to produce magnificent pieces of embroidery, many of them were recognised with Awards.
You are a master Peruvian Embroiderer and also adept in English embroidery! How do the techniques compare?
What is an 'Arpilleras of Peru’ ?
Needle and thread is the common connection between English and Peruvian embroidery, I love both of them. In Europe we work with the finest threads, cloth and tools; in Peru we work with what we have. Peruvians love very bright colours, in England we like more subtle colours. These choices are affected by our culture, history, weather, and so many other factors, even our language. As we are in Great Britain, Peruvians are very proud of our ancient cultures. The rich textile heritage that the ancient peoples of Peru have bequeathed to us gives us so much to learn and enjoy, not just in embroidery but for all art forms. Those attributes are an invaluable contribution that Peru has to offer, not only for their own people but for everyone who is interested in textiles and art. I consider myself so fortunate to belong to both places. These days I am a British and Peruvian citizen. Always I'm delighted when people in Peru ask me teach them English embroidery techniques, and when I'm in UK I am very happy teaching Peruvain embroidery. It is such a valuable asset to have these two cultures at once.
What is an 'Arpilleras of Peru’ ?
Arpilleras in Peru is the modern approach to textiles embellished with recycled or unwanted fabrics, stitched with bright coloured threads. In other words, it is a form of Peruvian applique. The creation of Apilleras started in 1974 in Chile, a year after Augusto Pinochet came to power. During this time friends, brothers, husbands and other members of the family disappeared, and were never found again. The wives and dependents of the ‘disappeared’ were left in poverty, so they started to stitch poignant Arpilleras pieces in memory of their loved ones and as a silent protest against Pinochet’s government. These pieces were so beautiful and evocative that they soon became very popular, and visitors began to collect them; soon after they started to export the work to all America and Europe. Our next class with Arpilleras will be a 'beginner Arpillera project'. Participants will learn technical stitches, design composition and execution of their own Arpillera creation. It is a great opportunity to join us and start an amazing personal journey of creating scenes from Peru or your own locale with cloth and threads with the concept of using pieces of recycled and upcycled textiles. After completion students can apply the same techniqus to their own small or large projects at home.
What is the significance of the 'Andean rose’ ? How did it come into being and how are they used?
Andean people love flowers and wild life. They stitch all year around their own costumes, and items for sale with floral and animal designs with bright colours for the Andean Festivities. Flower designs are the principal theme of the ladies' skirts and blouses called “Polleras”.“Andean Rose” is the given name of a full day or 3 hours master class embroidery workshop. This workshop and this floral Rose design ‘kit' is the principal design for mastering and learning the art of some Peruvian Andean Embroidery techniques. After class participants can finish their pieces at home and apply and incorporate the techniques in their own work.
Thank You Bella! I am looking forward to your next workshops at Fabrications and hope dear reader you can also join! To book your place, Contact Fabrications, Hackney, East London